Concern grow for sub amid false alarms

The ARA San Juan is 66m long and was built in 1983

The ARA San Juan is 66m long and was built in 1983

Argentina’s navy says it will take advantage of improved weather conditions to further step up its search for a submarine that vanished last Wednesday in the Atlantic Ocean.

Strong winds and high waves have hampered the search for the ARA San Juan and its 44 crew in the past days.

On Monday, navy officials said that noises picked up by two search vessels did not come from the sub, dashing relatives’ hopes for a speedy rescue.

It was the second false alarm.

A navy spokesman had earlier confirmed that satellite signals picked up on Saturday did not come from the missing boat.

The ARA San Juan was returning from a routine mission to Ushuaia, near the southern-most tip of South America, when it reported an “electrical breakdown”.

According to naval commander Gabriel Galeazzi, the submarine surfaced and reported the breakdown, which Capt Galeazzi described as a “short circuit” in the sub’s batteries.

The sub was ordered to cut its mission short and return to the naval base in Mar del Plata immediately.

According to navy spokesman Enrique Balbi, the captain of the ARA San Juan contacted the naval base once more after reporting the mechanical problem.

In the message, he reportedly said that the problem had been adequately fixed and that the sub would submerge and proceed towards Mar del Plata naval base.

The last contact was made at 07:30 local time (10:30 GMT) on Wednesday November 15. It is not known what happened to the sub after that contact.

Argentine navy protocol stipulates that in peace time, submarines make contact twice a day with the base.

When the submarine failed to call in, the Argentine navy began its search for the vessel. -BBC

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